College: Questionable Education

It’s no secret that I have been somewhat dissatisfied with my educational experience in college. I just feel that the whole educational system is flawed, somewhat corrupted, and does not reflect on your true abilities or really prepare you for what is to come.

Upon entering this higher education level, you asked to almost arbitrarily choose a major. Being an 18 year old kid, it is almost impossible to know exactly what you want to do for your next 4 years, let alone the rest of your life. (Hell, I barely know what I want to do for the next few days.) I feel like very few people know (or at least think they know) exactly what they want to do. People at this age are naive and can be molded into thinking that “Yeah, I definitely want to be a scientist!” or “Accounting seems awesome, you get paid a ton,” but will later realize that the translation from study and theory to employment is not that they envisioned. It’s important to note that just because you are interested in something, it does not mean you would enjoy doing that interest for a living.

I acknowledge that you can always change your major if you find you are dissatisfied with it, or begin as “undeclared” to take a range of classes in hopes of figuring out what you like, but this honestly doesn’t alleviate the issue. I almost feel like low level courses are structured to entice you to continue with the major, but as you get deeper into the subject matter, you may realize that it not your cup of tea. By this time it is often too late to switch your major and your best option is to ride it out.

This may just be me, but I think most people never take a step back and pull themselves out their current situation to analyze the path that they are taking. At the most basic level, ask yourself: What am I doing right now? What is this preparing me for? What will this skill or knowledge be useful for in the future? Am I truly passionate about this subject? Do I really see myself doing this trade for the next 30 or 40 years of my life? Do I see myself being happy?

These are just some things that should really be considered. At no time during my 3.5 years in college has a teacher or adviser ever posed a question like that. It’s just expected that you will do what everyone else does and continue along the path they have set in front of you.

One of the most difficult things is to deviate from the road laid in front of you. I think it’s just human nature to follow in the footsteps of others. We are afraid of uncertainty. But honestly, what is the worst that could happen if you were to take a chance on something? I guarantee the absolute worst result is not all that bad.

I am not necessarily advocating that you should take the unbeaten path, but take some time to think out your current and future situations.

Anyway, besides that, I feel that the grades you “earn” in school do not reflect upon your level of knowledge or effort you put into a subject at all. Let’s face it: blatant cheating goes on, even at college. Most people do not deserve the grades they get at all.

I also don’t think tests really show how much you’ve learned either. All they prove is how well you can take a test. I can honestly say that I don’t know shit about chemistry (which is my major). I am just really good at taking tests. I would say that every other chemistry major has more general knowledge about chemistry than me, yet I perform among the best on exams.

So what does your GPA tell about you? I guess it shows how good you are at getting good grades, which again shows little about your ability to learn and retain information, or even your intelligence level. There is not much that separates someone who fails and someone who succeeds, only that the person who succeeds knows how to succeed and has a belief that they will, while that the person who consistently fails carries neither of these traits.

Alright well I’ve rambled enough. I’ll probably write a follow up to this topic later on, but if you have any thoughts just drop me a comment.

  • Schwa Rox

    Don’t you think that preparing for a test is exactly what will show a future employer you will be good at tasks set forth? I always thought that was the measure of how well a person would perform doing the downright stupid things you will get to do day in and day out.

    Nothing prepares you for life. It get thrown at you and you do not make it out alive.

    As I write this my son has pooped his pants.
    “I only pooped a little… see?”- Milo Atticus Rox

  • Adam

    hahaha priceless quote there

    Thanks for the comment man. Yeah you never really know what is going to happen, you just need to be able to deal with whatever is thrown at you. None of my classes that I am taking seem to be preparing me for that.

  • Dave Frees

    Adam: Great post. But, I humbly disagree. All education is what you make of it. And you’re doing a brilliant job from what I read, of getting a lot out of what seems irrelevant. So, I’m not saying that the system is good (it really isn’t) or that the courses are directly preparing you for anything (they probably aren’t) but you are getting an education. The blog proves it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it smart guy! Love the blog and great writing keep up the good work.

    So far no one has pooped themselves while I am writing.
    Dave Frees

  • Adam

    Thanks for the comment Dave!

    I guess I am making the most of what I am required to take, not in that I am learning specific bits of information, but rather theories and techniques of studying and taking in information.

    However, I feel that I am doing a lot of these kinds of things on my own. My professors are just forcing me to hone those methods.